Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

Q 3
10 3
A K 10 8 7 5
K 10 6
West East
K 9 7 2 A
7 5 2 K 9 8 6 4
6 4 2 J 3
J 9 4 A 8 5 3 2
J 10 8 6 5 4
Q 9
Q 7


South West North East
  Pass 1 2 NT
Dbl. Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:7

“Sciences may be learned by rote, but wisdom not.”

— Laurence Sterne

In today’s spade game the natural play in trumps appears to be a lead to the queen. It seems to be the best way to unblock the suit (and indeed that would be so if, say, South’s eight were the nine). This approach would also pay dividends if West had a singleton honor.


But what if the auction had suggested that if anybody had a singleton honor, it would be East? Now the approach taken might have to be rather different. When Sally Brock debuted for Great Britain against the Polish women in Lausanne in 1979, she was confronted with just such a position, and was not found wanting.


With the heart finesse sure to work (given the auction), four spades seems to hinge on holding the trump losers to two. Sally won the lead of the heart seven cheaply in hand and played the club queen. When East won and returned a heart, Sally finessed again. This was not a practice finesse but an attempt to preserve her side’s trumps. Then she crossed to dummy with a top club and led a low spade, protecting against the very trump distribution that existed at the table.


South’s ace collected only the two, three and four — commonly known as a wish-trick — and Sally had certainly had her wish granted. All the defense could collect was one subsequent trump trick. As you can see, the natural play of leading the first round of trumps to the queen and ace would have created an extra trump loser.

ANSWER: Pass. You should only be tempted to compete further in auctions like this with real extras in high cards or shape. You have shown your hand nicely with the overcall; now leave it up to partner in case he has reserves. Do not tell the same story twice.


South Holds:

Q 3
10 3
A K 10 8 7 5
K 10 6


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
2 2 3 3


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact